Queen Charlotte's Cottage
A romantic idyll
It is an early example of a ‘cottage orne’ or picturesque cottage which suggested notions of a romantic idyll to which the real life of working people bore little relation! This was an act which a few years later contributed to the demise of Marie Antoinette when she built her model hamlet at Versailles to affect the life a peasant.
No doubt the Queen was inspired by her gardener at Richmond, ‘Capability’ Brown, who was so influential in introducing the picturesque movements to landscapes of English aristocrats.
Royal family at the cottage
The cottage reflects her personal taste and interests. It was a perfect location for a modest retreat where she and the rest of the royal family could enjoy private picnics or take tea during long summer walks through the gardens. Fortunately there were plenty of servants for the kitchens from Richmond Lodge nearby!
The cottage overlooked a new menagerie, which must have delighted the growing number of royal children. It was first home to pheasants and other exotic birds, but by 1792 also contained some of the first kangaroos to arrive in Britain.
A favourite place
The cottage was looked back on a ‘favourite place’ with the King, but its heyday was brief and George III did not return to Kew after 1806. It was used for the last time by the royal family in 1818 following the double wedding of the Duke of Clarence (later William 1V) and Edward, Duke of Kent (father of Queen Victoria).
Queen Victoria rarely visited the cottage, although it was maintained by a housekeeper throughout her reign. In 1898 the Queen gave the cottage and its grounds to the public to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.